We are coming into the last weekend of our Some Like It Hot festival and the results are in. Tyler is full of chile-heads! Our fresh and roasted peppers have flown off the shelves this past week. East Texans have really enjoyed the spicier side of cuisine.
Amidst all of the Hatch and ghost pepper hoopla, I wanted to take a moment to give props to a little known pepper that is truly one of my favorite items in the produce department. It is called a shishito pepper (pronounced shi-she-to).
This pepper is small, slender, and thin-walled. It turns from green to red upon ripening; however it is usually harvested while green. The first time I had these peppers was at a Spanish tapas restaurant. They were served blistered with a nice bit of sea salt. The sweetness of the pepper and the crisp flakiness of the salt combined to create one of the most addictive foods I’ve ever eaten.
The funny thing about these unassuming little guys is that while the majority of the peppers are mild, roughly one in 10 are spicy. So eating them is a little like playing a pepper version of Russian roulette — you never know when you are going to bite into the hot one!
There does not seem to be any hard and fast rule to differentiate the hot from mild without breaking it open. Some say that it is spicy if it has fewer seeds, and this can be determined by touch. Others say the heat can be determined by sniffing for pungency. To me, not knowing makes eating these all the more fun!
These peppers make the perfect summer dinner party appetizer, as they can be made in less than 10 minutes, they look pretty, and they’re a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. They’re also great for a quick snack at home. They are easy to prepare and a healthy alternative to chips or other processed salty snacks. Try this recipe out!
ROASTED SHISHITO PEPPERS
A few big handfuls of shishito peppers
Olive oil (good quality)
Coarsely ground sea salt, to taste
Wrap peppers in foil, drizzle some olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Close foil and bake in a 450° F oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Open the foil and turn on the broiler for an additional 2 minutes. Cook them until they have black blistered marks.
Alternatively, you can cook them on high heat in a skillet, or on a grill.